County Democrats will support incumbent slate for Long Beach City Council

Party Chairman Jay Jacobs supporting Diamond, Eramo and Mulvaney in primary

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Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs said the party is backing incumbents Anthony Eramo and Chumi Diamond for Long Beach City Council in a June primary, as well as candidate Jim Mulvaney, a veteran journalist and co-founder of the local nonprofit Surf for All.

With three seats up for grabs this year, Jacobs announced Tuesday that he was backing the incumbents because their leadership “has helped move Long Beach forward in the past several years,” and Mulvaney “will help enable the team to continue the tremendous progress that has been made in rebuilding the City of Long Beach since Superstorm Sandy.”

“Incumbents Anthony Eramo and Chumi Diamond, with the addition of Jim Mulvaney, are the Democratic team committed to focusing on what matters to hardworking Long Beach families,” Jacobs said in a statement.

Diamond, the council’s vice president, said she was “thrilled” to receive the party’s nomination and noted the council’s accomplishments, such as progress in rebuilding the city’s shoreline after Hurricane Sandy, making the city more environmentally friendly and increasing emergency preparedness.

“I love Long Beach, and since being elected have fought hard to protect taxpayers,” Diamond said in a statement. We’ve made great progress . . . but there is more that we can accomplish together.”

“With our progressive values under threat in Washington like never before, I am recommitted to fighting for working families and advocating for my neighbors here in Long Beach,” Eramo, the council president, added in a statement.  “I am proud of our work to improve the quality of life here, maintain services and lower crime. Our city faces challenges, but we are ready to come together, reject divisiveness and continue delivering for Long Beach families.” 

Jacobs said he had intended to back Councilwoman Anissa Moore, a Democrat who is also up for re-election this year, but would not do so after she announced last week that she was running on the Republican line as part of a coalition ticket. Moore said last week that she would consider running on other party lines.

The announcement by Jacobs comes a week after three longtime Long Beach residents announced that they intend to run in the primary.

West End resident Liz Treston, a well-known community advocate and chairwoman of the Long Beach Community Organizations Active in Disasters; Karen McInnis, a financial executive who also lives in the West End; and Ron Paganini, a retired city worker and former union leader, said they were running as part of a new wave of Democrats on a platform to restore “integrity, trust and stability to both the city and the local Democratic brand.”

They pledged to bring transparency to City Hall in the wake of a fiscal crisis — they said the city’s debt has ballooned to more than $100 million over the past several years — and “questionable” separation payouts made to current and former employees in 2017 that led to an audit now under way by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

Jacobs told the Herald that he was backing the incumbents despite the financial crisis and a credit rating downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service last week, from Baa1 to Baa2 — just two notches above junk bond status.

He added that the results of a recent online poll the committee took in February — in part to gauge which candidates Long Beach residents would support in a primary — showed “substantial” support for both Eramo and Diamond.

“They had some difficulties, and there have been controversies, but overall, given what they’re facing, I think they did the best they could do,” Jacobs said. “There are lots of circumstances that created the financial condition of Long Beach, not the least of which included the stresses that came with [Hurricane] Sandy and the cleanup, and rebuilding requirements that pushed the city’s debt further than people might like it to be.”

Jacobs — who spoke at a Long Beach Democratic Committee meeting last month in an attempt to unify a divided party in the city, and announced the launch of the poll — said he had hoped to discuss its results with local Democrats at a subsequent meeting before he decided whom the party would back in a primary. He declined to disclose the results of the poll to the Herald.

“I asked for time,” Jacobs said. “Within just days, this other group . . . decided that they were going to run, and didn’t wait for the results of the poll or the decision I was going to make, or the meeting I was going to have to discuss the results.”

In response, the primary challengers issued a joint statement that read, “We fully respect Chairman Jacobs’s decision and look forward to working with him after we win the primary in June.”

Candidates began collecting petition signatures Tuesday in order to get on the ballot ahead of the June 25 primary. Long Beach resident Tim Kramer — who led a major relief effort last year for victims of Hurricane Harvey — recently announced that he was also seeking petitions to get on the Democratic ballot.

For his part, Mulvaney — the former deputy commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights, a former deputy managing editor of the Daily News, a former investigative reporter at Newsday and former reporter with the Orange County Register in California, where he led a team that won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting — said he was running because he wanted Long Beach “to continue to grow and improve.”

“I’m an independent person, and while I’m running with them, I’m still my own man,” Mulvaney told the Herald. “Times are tough, and who did what and when, I’m going to find out. But the big thing I’m looking to do is move things forward. And I think I can bring a certain amount of gravitas and civility that may not always be there. I hope all three of us win.”

Mulvaney, a 40-year Long Beach resident and the father of an autistic son, Dan, co-founded Surf for All — a Long Beach-based nonprofit that organizes surf outings and other events for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities — in 2002. “I now have the time to give back,” said Mulvaney, currently an adjunct professor of police science at John Jay College and an adjunct professor of journalism at St. John’s University. “I’m a passionate advocate not only for my family, not only for the disabled, but for all people.”